1. a toothed strip of plastic, hard rubber, bone, wood, or metal, used for arranging the hair, untangling it, or holding it in place.
  2. a currycomb.
  3. any comblike instrument, object, or formation.
  4. the fleshy, more or less serrated outgrowth on the head of certain gallinaceous birds, especially the domestic fowl.
  5. something resembling or suggesting this, as the crest of a wave.
  6. a honeycomb, or any similar group of cells.
  7. a machine for separating choice cotton or wool fibers from noil.
  8. a comblike instrument for imparting a grainlike finish to a painted surface.
  9. Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. a ridge of a roof.
  10. a series of springlike prongs projecting from a spine, usually of plastic, for making a loose-leaf binding.
  11. a trowel having a notched edge for applying adhesives in setting tiles or the like.
  12. Armor. a ridge along the top of a helmet, especially of the morion.
  13. Masonry. drag(def 31).
  14. the upper edge of the buttstock of a rifle or shotgun.
verb (used with object)
  1. to arrange or adorn (the hair) with a comb.
  2. to use (something) in the manner of a comb: She was slowly combing her fingers through her hair.
  3. to remove (anything undesirable) with or as if with a comb: She combed the snarls out of her hair. They combed the cowards from the group.
  4. to search everywhere in: He combed the files for the missing letter.
  5. to separate (textile fibers) with a comb.
  6. to scrape with or as with a comb.
  7. to sweep across; rake: High winds combed the seacoast.
verb (used without object)
  1. to roll over or break at the crest, as a wave.

Origin of comb

before 900; Middle English; Old English comb, camb; cognate with Old High German kamb (German Kamm), Old Norse kambr, Greek gómphos “pin, peg,” gomphíos “molar tooth”; see cam1
Related formscomb·less, adjectivecomb·less·ness, nounun·combed, adjectivewell-combed, adjective


plural noun
  1. hairs removed with a comb or a brush.

Origin of combings

First recorded in 1565–75; comb1 + -ing1 + -s3 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for combing

Contemporary Examples of combing

Historical Examples of combing

British Dictionary definitions for combing


pl n
  1. the loose hair, wool, etc, removed by combing, esp that of animals
  2. the unwanted loose short fibres removed in combing cotton, etc


  1. a toothed device of metal, plastic, wood, etc, used for disentangling or arranging hair
  2. a tool or machine that separates, cleans, and straightens wool, cotton, etc
  3. Australian and NZ the fixed cutter on a sheep-shearing machine
  4. anything resembling a toothed comb in form or function
  5. the fleshy deeply serrated outgrowth on the top of the heads of certain birds, esp the domestic fowl
  6. anything resembling the comb of a bird
  7. a currycomb
  8. a honeycomb
  9. the row of fused cilia in a ctenophore
  10. go over with a fine-tooth comb, go over with a fine-toothed comb, go through with a fine-tooth comb or go through with a fine-toothed comb to examine very thoroughly
  1. (tr) to use a comb on
  2. (when tr, often foll by through) to search or inspect with great carethe police combed the woods
See also comb out

Word Origin for comb

Old English camb; related to Old Norse kambr, Old High German camb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for combing



Old English camb "comb, crest, honeycomb" (later Anglian comb), from West Germanic *kambaz (cf. Old Saxon and Old High German camb, German Kamm, Middle Dutch cam, Dutch kam, Old Norse kambr), literally "toothed object," from PIE *gombhos, from root *gembh- "to bite, tooth" (cf. Greek gomphos "a molar tooth," Sanskrit gambha-s "tooth").



late 14c. (implied in past participle kombid), verb derived from comb (n.); replacing the former verb, Old English cemban, which however survives in unkempt. Related: Combed; combing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with combing


see fine-tooth comb.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.